Hammers bouncing too much

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Hammers bouncing too much

Postby BobbaSkywalker » Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:06 am

Self-taught here, just starting out. I have all of one pair of hammers, hard on one side and a dampening fabric on the other.

I like the brighter sound of the side without the dampener, but when I strike the strings, it seems like the hammer wants to bounce back and hit the string a second time. I'm not trying to be forceful; it just happens.

Obviously, the answer is to get another set of hammers, but I've yet to venture forth to any ensembles to borrow a pair, or to a store (there is one within driving distance) to try some out.

Strings too tight? Wood too solid? Operator error?

I try the hard/bright side but then flip 'em over and use the dampened side for a while.
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Re: Hammers bouncing too much

Postby Steve Smith » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:52 am

I'd suggest two things. First, don't hold the hammers tightly. It could be that you're forcing them back down when they bounce up. If you hold them more loosely, it'll be much more comfortable, as well. Second, make sure the "resting" position of the hammers is above the strings, not on them. If you let them fall back to the strings you'll get too much bounce, as you say.

This all assumes, of course, that your hammers really aren't the problem. We have a pair with flat (horizontally) bamboo shafts that flex way too much, but with wooden shafts it's usually not much of a problem.
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Re: Hammers bouncing too much

Postby BobbaSkywalker » Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:22 pm

Thanks for the reply. I'd like to think I'm not holding the hammers too tightly; it's certainly not a death grip. And I don't hold the hammers on the strings, though I do keep them fairly close.

As for the material of the hammers, I'm not sure what it is. It feels light and looks light, though it could be pine.
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Re: Hammers bouncing too much

Postby asterhunter » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:01 pm

It's really hard to tell without actually being there, to show you what you are doing wrong. But I'll give it a shot. You should hold the hammers between the thumb and forefinger loosely enough that when you when you quickly move your hands up and down a short distance, they bounce a bit with you. Now imagine what happens when you accidentally touch your hand on a hot stove eye. Well, aside from letting out a yell, you jerk your hand back quickly off the eye. That's kind of the motion you want, only not quite so forcefully. You have a "down stroke" where the hammer contacts the string. At that instant you are going to have an "upstroke" with your hand, quickly but not stiffly or forcefully. How high is the upstroke? High enough to keep the hammer from striking the string again. And you have to remember not to tighten up on the grip, the hammer needs to have a little bit of play in it (no pun intended!). It's the same motion that drummers use. If you've never learned to play percussion, a snare drum in particular, this kind of motion can be quite foreign to you. So you'll need to practice this for several minutes a day until you get the hang of it and it just happens naturally without thinking about it.

Your hands will work like the action on a piano. If you have an upright piano handy, open it up where you can see the hammers, play a note and watch what happens to that hammer. The hammer strikes the strings, quickly bounces back, but then rebounds forward again. But if you are holding the note down, it will not rebound far enough to double strike the stings. There is a mechanism in the piano's action, called the "escapement" that prevents the hammer from double striking the string. You hands act like a biological version of the mechanical escapement.

Hope this helps.

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Re: Hammers bouncing too much

Postby BobbaSkywalker » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:59 pm

Thanks for the tips and explanation. The best I can figure now is that I need to hold my hands higher off the strings. I do keep a light grip on the hammers (or so I think) and hold each between my index finger and thumb.

It's curious that you mention snare drums. I had been thinking of buying some sticks and a practice pad. (Change that. I just placed an order.)
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